The public has been assured a cruise ship docking in Tauranga this morning is clear of coronavirus, despite seven people showing flu-like symptoms.
The Voyager of the Seas cruise ship, with a maximum capacity of 4369 passengers and crew, docked in the Port of Tauranga at 6.45am after being diverted from Vanuatu.
A Bay of Plenty Times reporter at the wharf this morning said passengers were being let off the ship and no one was wearing face masks.
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said they had sought assurance from the Ministry of Health before the arrival of the cruise ship this morning.
"Both Toi Te Ora Public Health Unit and the Ministry of Health have determined that there is no risk of Covid-19 [coronavirus] onboard the vessel."
In a written statement a Ministry of Health spokesperson said, "we are aware that there are seven people on board the cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas, due to dock in Tauranga tomorrow that are ill with typical influenza or gastroenteritis".
The people were being managed appropriately and their current assessment was that there was no risk of Covid-19.
Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell posted on Facebook last night asking for calm from the community in this situation.
He said he wanted to assure everyone that they were working hard to ascertain the exact situation aboard and if there was any risk, he would advocate that they would not be able to disembark.
Dunne said there were strict measures in place to mitigate the risk of the illness spreading. The majority of more than 270 cruise ships globally continue to sail unaffected, including within New Zealand – but with strict precautions in place.
No cruise ships had travelled directly from China to New Zealand and cruise liners were denying boarding to anyone who may present an increased risk.
Catherine Mann and Mitchell Hooper from Broken Hill in Australia, were travelling with their son on Voyager of the Seas and disembarked in Tauranga this morning.
Their friend was booked to have a wedding in Port Villa in Vanuatu but this got cancelled as authorities did not permit passengers to leave the boat due to the presence of influenza on the ship.
Mann said the atmosphere was mainly relaxed on the ship.
"Most people are pretty chill, things aren't too disrupted. . . But the ship crew are always disinfecting stuff and surfaces."
Georgie Montgomery was visiting from Victoria with her partner and four children.
She said about half of the passengers were relaxed about the change in route and the other half were upset.
"It ranges from people who are angry to people who are like, 'it is what it is. There's nothing we can do'"
She said a wedding was cancelled which caused some drama. Some people were "so aggressive" that they were removed from the ship, she said.
Others decided to get off the ship and fly home at Noumea. Some passengers were flying home from Tauranga today. She said she was "really sad" about the change in route as the trip was supposed to be a tropical getaway.
"Its not that we don't like New Zealand or don't want to come here. We've already been here, but its not what we paid for."